News & Events

Survey Results: Did religion play a part in the 2012 election?

Thanks to all who took the time to complete our first online survey!

Nearly 70% of you said that religion played a role in the election, yet almost 90% stated that the candidates’ faiths did not influence your voting decision. But while the candidates’ religion did not have substantial sway among respondents, what they had to say on the topic did have an impact. Sixty-six percent of you reported that what the candidates said about religion influenced your voting decision.

What was perhaps most interesting is what you had to say to us in the final question of the survey, where we asked if you’d like to elaborate. We received great responses. Here’s a sampling:

  • I would consider voting for a candidate of any faith group if I believed that s/he shared and would officially uphold values I believe in. I would, however, choose against any candidate, even one who shared my faith, if s/he expressed exclusive and religiously xenophobic views.
  • Religion is important; however, more important is the aspect of freedom of religion. No one has the right to denigrate the religious beliefs of others, lest they forget what our country is all about.
  • Obama's disdain for "those that value their guns and religion" surely had some effect.
  • It was not what was said specifically about religion that influenced my choice. It was other topics that are influenced by religion that influenced me.
  • I think religion became a secondary issue to political ideology.
  • Religion has no place in government. It is an intimate relationship between an individual and his/or her god(s).
  • I was deeply offended by the Republican attempts to suggest that Mr. Obama was Muslim, as if that would be a negative!
  • I'm a Roman Catholic & some of our bishops tried to make religious freedom & health care – i.e., contraceptives – an issue, but their arguments did not resonate with the faithful.
  • Separation of "church" and state is very important to me. When a political party wants to mandate things that fall into the religious realm, I'm alarmed.

In addition to our survey, the Pew Forum recently released a preliminary analysis of how the faithful voted.  We also found interesting stories about religion and the presidential election, including a Huffington Post story about both candidates’ appeal to religious voters during the final days of the campaign and a CNN story that raised questions about the Christian right’s influence on the electorate.

Again, thank you all of your responses.  And, although we only printed a small sample of the comments, we are using every response to inform our work. We look forward to hearing from you in our next survey. 

If you have a suggestion for a survey topic or question, we’d love to hear it!  Please send your ideas our way.